Dancing with Data to Improve Learning by D. Sever

Title: Dancing with Data to Improve Learning
Publisher: ScarecrowEducation
Year: 2004

You have to admire any author that compares working with data to dancing and Sever does a solid job of stretching the analogy without breaking it. When I read books that aren't mine, meaning I can't write in them and am denied the small pleasure that highlighting provides, I code things with little tabs. Red means" oh that's cool, I need to borrow and cite that". Green means a reference that the author used that I need to investigate. Sever's book got 4 red tabs, 4 green. Not sure what the implications there are but I feel I should use some data to inform this posting.

Each chapter is set up with a dance-related concept. The chapter "Don't Fox Trot in a Disco" gives multiple examples of how data should and shouldn't be used. His ideas on how students can use data got a red tag from me but if I tagged for "ugh", his section on displaying data might have gotten one. I was so heavily influenced by Creating More Effective Graphs that I've become a bit of a data display snob. Sever proposes ways of sharing data with a school board but each slide is more chaotic than the previous. On the other hand, he does a great job of explaining the faulty logic behind comparing two groups of students by using the repeated example of Apple and Orange Elementary. He reinforces consistency, action planning, and the need for on-going professional development. I was also impressed by his presentation of multiple measures. It's the same idea as Bernhardt but his presentation is much simpler. Again, nothing earth shattering, just solid and reinforcing of data work that's been and is being done.

Good resource for someone just beginning to explore - worth buying if you're starting to look at what "data" means at the school level. Fast, easy read for someone who has worked with data for sometime - worth borrowing from someone and reading once.


Theresa G said...

First - your tab structure for not writing in books is genius!! If I could only be that organized!! How many tabs does it take to cross over into purchasing and writing in the book?

Wonder if we could add something like that to book reviews we do on the blog?? And can I borrow the book? :-)

Anonymous said...

As the author of Dancing with Data, I, too, am impressed with the tab idea. Thanks for the positive review! I'm glad you found it helpful...Dave